2016-09-23 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Apples, it’s what’s for lunch (and dinner)
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

I love apples. My favorite season is autumn and one of the reasons is the apples are so fresh, juicy and crisp.

We generally think of apples for a dessert or a snack, however, I have included some recipes this time that are with apples and it’s for dinner.

Pork chops with maple apples

4 pork loin chops, cut ¾ inch thick; salt and ground black pepper; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 2 apples, cored and thinly sliced; 1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges; 2 cloves garlic, minced; ¼ cup apple juice; 1/3 cup whipping cream; 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup; and 2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed.

Trim excess fat from chops. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork chops.

Cook for 8 to 12 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted through the side in the center registers 145 degrees, turning once halfway through cooking. Remove from skillet. Cover with foil. Let stand 3 minutes.

Add apples, onions and garlic to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add apple juice. Cook about 4 minutes more or until most liquid has evaporated and apples are crisp-tender. Stir together whipping cream, maple syrup and thyme.

Pour over apples in skillet. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through and sauce starts to thicken.

Serve apple mixture over pork chops. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, if desired.

Serves four.

Caramelized onion and apple tart

2 tablespoon butter; 1 large red onion, thinly sliced; 1 pound purchased pizza dough (thawed if frozen) or make your favorite recipe; 2 ounces thinly sliced cooked ham; 1 small apple, cored, quartered and thinly sliced; 2/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese; fresh thyme; and coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place oven rack in lowest position; preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside (or line with parchment paper that is safe for 450 degrees).

To caramelize onions, in a large skillet melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion. Cook covered for about 12 minutes or just until tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover, cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes more or until very tender.

Remove from heat; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out or press pizza dough into an irregular rectangular shape, about 13 x 9 inches. Transfer to prepared pan.

Build up edges slightly. Prink generously with a fork. Bake until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, about 8 minutes.

Top with ham, caramelized onion, apple and cheese. Bake more 10 minutes or until crust is crispy and golden and the cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves six.

Spinach salad with apple vinaigrette

2 apples; 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil; ½ cup cider vinegar; 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup; 1 teaspoon snipped fresh sage; ½ teaspoon kosher salt; ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper; 6 ounces baby spinach or mixed baby greens; and ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped.

Core and chop one of the apples. In a large skillet cook chopped apple in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.

Transfer to a blender. Add vinegar, maple syrup, sage, kosher salt and ground black pepper. Cover and blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the remaining olive oil, blending until emulsified (smooth and thickened).

Core and slice remaining apple. In a large bowl combine the spinach, sliced apple and hazelnuts. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Serves six.

There. You are now all set to have apples for dinner.

Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com

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